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EDWARD STEICHEN
[1879 - 1973] American artistic photographer, painter, art gallery and museum curator, creator of World Exhibition "The Family of Man"
No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. - Edward Steichen

The use of the term "art medium" is, to say the least, misleading, for it is the artist that creates a work of art not the medium. It is the artist in photography that gives form to content by a distillation of ideas, thought, experience, insight and understanding. - Edward Steichen

Once you really commence to see things, then you really commence to feel things. - Edward Steichen

To make good photographs, to express something, to contribute something to the world he lives in, and to contribute something to the art of photography besides imitations of the best photographers on the market today, that is basic training, the understanding of self. - Edward Steichen

Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face - the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited; and the wealth and confusion that man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man. - Edward Steichen - In "Time," 7 Apr 1961.

Every other artist begins [with] a blank canvas, a piece of paper... the photographer begins with the finished product. - Edward Steichen

Photography is a major force in explaining man to man. - Edward Steichen - Time 7 Apr 61

Photography is a medium of formidable contradictions. It is both ridiculously easy and almost impossibly difficult. It is easy because its technical rudiments can readily be mastered by anyonwith a few simple instructions. It is difficult because, while while the artist working in any other medium begins with a blank surface and gradually brings his conception into being, the photographer is the only imagemaker who begins with the picture completed. His emotions, his knowledge, and his native talent are brought into focus and fixed beyond recall the moment the shutter of his camera has closed. - Edward Steichen

When that shutter clicks, anything else that can be done afterward is not worth consideration. - Edward Steichen - recalled on his death 25 Mar 1973.

Some day there may be... machinery that needs but to be wound up and sent roaming o'er hill and dale, through fields and meadows, by babbling brooks and shady woods - in short, a machine that will discriminately select its subject and, by means of a skillful arrangement of springs and screws, compose its motif, expose the plate, develop, print, and even mount and frame the result of its excursion, so that there will be nothing for us to do but to send it to the Royal Photographic Society's exhibition and gratefully to receive the 'Royal Medal'. - Edward Steichen

Most photographers seem to operate with a pane of glass between themselves and their subjects. They just can’t get inside and know the subject. - Edward Steichen, The Best of Popular Photography by Harvey V. Fondiller , ISBN: 0871650371 , Page: 58
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If it were possible for any one person or group of persons to go through a photographic finishing plant’s work at the end of a day, you could probably pull out the most extraordinary photographic exhibition we’ve ever seen. On almost any subject. The trouble is to find the things. - Edward Steichen

Immediately following the war, Steichen began works to ultimately master the technical aspects of photography itself, namely, lights and darks themselves. In one exercise of this, Steichen took over 1,000 exposures of a single white teacup and saucer against a graduated scale of tones from pure white to black velvet. While this redundancy may seem obscure, in A life in Photography, Steichen stated that "the experiment was to a photographer what finger exercises were to a pianist." - Edward Steichen

I knew, of course, that trees and plants had roots, stems, bark, branches and foliage that reached up toward the light. But I was coming to realize that the real magician was light itself... - Edward Steichen

In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in the dark room the developer is mixed for detail, breath, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to. In fact every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal, unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability. - Edward Steichen

A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it. - Edward Steichen

The Family of Man has been created in a passionate spirit of devoted love and faith in man. - Edward Steichen - Introduction to the catalogue of the exhibition "The Family of Man". [Museum of Modern Art, Maco Magazine Corporation, New York 1955)

In none of these figures is the face visible. For many years everyone had prejudices against posing in the nude, and even professional models usually insisted, when they posed for nude pictures, that their faces be not shown. - Edward Steichen - commenting on a number of nude photographs done by himself. , Views on nudes by Bill Jay , ISBN: 0240507312 , Page: 28
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When I first became interested in photography… my idea was to have it recognized as one of the fine arts. Today I don’t give a hoot in hell about that. The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each to himself. And that is the most complicated things on earth and almost as naïve as a tender plant. - Edward Steichen - as commented on his 90th birthday., Collection, Use, and Care of Historical Photographs by Robert A. Weinstein , ISBN: 091005021X , Page: 16
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The precision of his [Harry Callahan] skill places his work beyond the tentative and the experimental stage. He is continually searching and exploring both himself and his surroundings. and in this exploration of the realm of places, people and things, contrasts and relationships, Callahan is no respecter of conventional technical formula or code. His delicate sense of pattern is an integral part of his photography and not a thing by itself. - Edward Steichen - Creative Camera, August, 1968, page 271

The precision of his [Harry Callahan] skill places his work beyond the tentative and the experimental stage. He is continually searching and exploring both himself and his surroundings. and in this exploration of the realm of places, people and things, contrasts and relationships, Callahan is no respecter of conventional technical formula or code. His delicate sense of pattern is an integral part of his photography and not a thing by itself. - Edward Steichen

It is rather amusing, this tendency of the wise to regard a print which has been locally manipulated as irrational photography – this tendency which finds an esthetic tone of expression in the word faked. A MANIPULATED print may be not a photograph. The personal intervention between the action of the light and the print itself may be a blemish on the purity of photography. But, whether this intervention consists merely of marking, shading and tinting in a direct print, or of stippling, painting and scratching on the negative, or of using glycerine, brush and mop on a print, faking has set in, and the results must always depend upon the photographer, upon his personality, his technical ability and his feeling. BUT long before this stage of conscious manipulation has been begun, faking has already set in. In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in dark-room the developer is mixed for detail, breadth, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to. In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal, unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability. - Edward Steichen - Camera Work 1, 1903. [cited in: Alfred Stieglitz “Camera Work (The Complete Illustrations 1903 – 1917)”, Benedikt Taschen Verlag GmbH, Köln, 1997, p. 107]

Today I am no longer concerned with photography as an art form. I believe it is potentially the best medium for explaining man to himself and to his fellow man. - Edward Steichen - 1967. [“A Collection of Photographs”, Aperture, Fall 1969, Volume 14, Number 2]

When I first became interested in photography, I thought it was the whole cheese. My idea was to have it recognized as one of the fine arts. Today I don’t give a hoot in hell about it. The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each man to himself. And that is no mean function. - Edward Steichen - Comment on the occasion of his 90th birthday. [cited in: “Popular Photography”, May 1974, p. 14 “Through the Lens”]

Art for art’s sake is dead, if it ever lived. - Edward Steichen

The people in the audience looked at the pictures, and the people in the pictures looked back at them. They recognized each other. - Edward Steichen - Comment by Edward Stiechen about his exhibit “The Family of Man” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1955.

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